Sailing on SOJANA at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup by Jim Schmicker

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Every year in the first week of September, the world’s most competitive maxi yachts gather in Porto Cervo, Sardinia for the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. For the last two years, SOJANA, the Farr 115’ ketch (design #442) has competed in the supermaxi division against the likes of SAUDADE, VISIONE, NILAYA, HETAIROS and others. This year I was able to join SOJANA in my usual position as mizzen trimmer.

Porto Cervo can serve up a myriad of conditions and this year was no exception. Racing on day 1 was canceled due to winds in excess of 30 knots and on day 2 the winds “moderated” to just 25. For SOJANA, day 2 saw our #3 jib come apart along the leech and foot on the first upwind leg. After more than 2 years of excellent service, the material had reached its limit. Knowing the wind forecast predicted more days of strong winds we needed to recover the sail if there were any chance it could be repaired. By the time we carefully furled the sail and hoisted our staysail we were quite far behind. The same night a group of 7 of us in the crew, led by Andrew Dove and Andy Mitchell, were pressed into service as sailmakers to repair the #3. Laying a strip of Spectra all along the leech may not sound like much work but when the leech is over 38m (124 ft) long it takes a while. The repaired #3 served us well on Thursday, day 3, with the winds still ranging above 20 knots. Friday was a bit frustrating as the easterly sea breeze fought against a north-westerly at the bottom of the course. We were amongst the leaders when all were caught in the transition zone. The others escaped from mere boat lengths away on capricious zephyrs while we sat becalmed. We went from anticipating our best finish of the week to actually achieving our worst. Saturday’s final race was our best under the unique averaged IRC and ORC scoring scheme. Our final result was fifth out of nine.

One of the most enjoyable things for me as a member of the SOJANA crew is participating in the continuous effort to improve the boat both in outright performance and in performance versus handicap. During her next maintenance period a retractable bowsprit will be installed. Spinnaker area will increase nearly 15% and the more forward tack point for the spinnaker (+3.5m) will allow the setting of a spinnaker staysail for even more effective sail area reaching and running. The estimated increase in the IRC rating (+0.012) is limited because the current spinnaker area on SOJANA is below typical norms. The new configuration will be tested in SOJANA’s next race, the Transatlantic Maxi Yacht Cup starting from Tenerife on November 21st.

Attending major sailing events like the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup keeps our team up to date on the latest developments in the maxi yacht classes including trends in owner participation and the desires of the owners and sailors in design features for both winning races and for achieving suitable levels of comfort and style. Staying on top of these trends is essential to continuously improving our designs and keeping FYD at the forefront of maxi yacht design.

Contact Farr Yacht Design at if we can help optimize your boat for future events, or if you would like of our staff to do some regatta sailing with you.